Friday, June 7, 2024

Archive Review: The Roots' The Roots Come Alive (1999)

The Roots are, perhaps, the most underrated players in hip-hop. They may not raise a ruckus like the Wu-Tang Clan, carry a rep like the Ruff Ryders family, or even belong to an impressive Platinum™ album posse like the rappers on Master P’s roster. The Roots nonetheless continue to crank out some of the most interesting and intelligent music you’ll find on the hip-hop scene. Because their songs are based as much on African-American musical tradition as they are on rap’s verbal traditions, the Roots are also one of the few hip-hop crews that can pull off a live show with some energy and dignity.

A tight performance outfit with over a decade under their belts, the Roots hit the stage some 250 nights a year – a pace that would make many “touring” rock bands blush with embarrassment. As such, The Roots Come Alive, compiled from the performances during the past year, showcases the band’s strengths and delivers an accurate documentation of the Roots’ live persona. With various guest vocalists (including the incredible Jill Scott) rapping over a musical undercurrent that draws its influences from the worlds of jazz, soul, World music, and old-school rap, the Roots create a truly mesmerizing vocal and musical rhythm. Flying under the listener’s radar to stealthily deliver the band’s lyrical message, if you’d like to hear how good hip-hop can be, check out The Roots Come Alive. (MCA/Universal)

Review originally published by Alt.Culture.Guide™ zine, 1999

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